Xabi Alonso lined up alongside the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Andres Iniesta during a decorated playing career, but says no one compares to his former Bayern Munich teammate Manuel Neuer.
Alonso lifted UEFA Champions League crowns with Liverpool and Real Madrid, before wrapping up his career at Bayern with a flurry of three Bundesliga titles and a DFB Cup between 2014 and 2017. He was also part of Spain's 2010 FIFA World Cup and 2008 and 2012 UEFA Euro-winning teams.
When asked to select his ultimate five-aside team, Alonso had no trouble choosing his No.1 goalkeeper.
"Manuel Neuer," the 39-year-old told The Greatest Game with Jamie Carragher podcast. "For me, he's the best I've ever seen, and the best I've ever played with."
Few would disagree. Despite recently turning 35, Neuer remains first-choice for club and country. He has reinterpreted what it means to be a modern goalkeeper, becoming the undisputed reference point for the position on account of his world-class abilities in and outside his own penalty area.
"Manu's not only the world's best keeper by a distance, he's also a sensational outfield player," Alonso - currently head coach of the reserve team at boyhood club Real Sociedad - once told SportBild.
"He's never stopped being big Manu, even when he had his injuries."
Watch: Manuel Neuer under the tactical microsope
Neuer, who joined Bayern from Schalke in summer 2011, can cement his legacy by adding a ninth successive Bundesliga title to his collection in the coming weeks. He is the only custodian with over 100 appearances in league history to have played more games (436) than goals conceded (355).
The Bayern and Germany captain is the reigning IFFHS World's Best Goalkeeper, having been awarded the prize for a record fifth time in 2020.